City: PATRAS, GREECE
An initiative that aims to support and strengthen the area of Lefka in Patras, a region affected by unemployment and a range of social issues.
KEY FACTS Holding Organization: Initiative of students and professors of Social Work and residents in Lefka Status: no legal status - initiative only People involved in the project: 10 students of different Departments and members of the local neighborhood association Public partners: NO Private Partners: ΝΟ Sources and links: Dora-Dimitra Teloni doratel71 à gmail.com
The idea was to run an intervention to support and empower local residents affected by multiple economic and social problems. The local context: This area is located on the outskirts of Patras, with its population coming from the working class and which has always experienced financial difficulties. With the economic crisis of the last 4 years, unemployment rates in the area have reached 95%. The local authorities have abandoned the region, which faces problems of water supply, drainage and construction. Drug trafficking and the general deterioration of the neighbourhood has led to a ghettoisation of the region and increasing social problems.
The starting point:
The new President of the “new settlement housing poplar” began to demand for the intervention of the local government to tackle the various problems. This in turn motivated a group of students, from Social Work and other departments, which, under the guidance of a professor of the Department of Social Work, decided to intervene by creating this initiative.
How does it work?
A group of 10 students from various Departments (Social Work, School of Education, Electrical, etc.). with the guidance of a professor of the Department of Social Work, held meetings with residents to record the problems they face. Subsequently, they initiated interventions to support families in crisis and to refer them to social services and other bodies relevant to the problems encountered (abuse, mental illness, suicide attempts). They also made some creative groups for children and adolescents of the neighbourhood. They organised a speech to residents about the issue of drugs, in collaboration with KETHEA (the organisation for rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users in Greece). Attempts were made to organise a festival in the beginning of the summer to celebrate the end of the school year, but this was not possible in the end.
Added value of the project and making resources available:
Social benefits: Upgrading of the area, support towards combatting social problems of residents, empowering the neighbourhood and making persons remember that they are not alone nor have been forgotten. Challenges/risks/inertias: The project is very new and requires the support of the community, the people and the leaders of the region to function well. So far it has been embraced by the participants and there is a desire for continued intervention next year as well. The problems of the families addressed by the Initiative are very serious and difficult to treat given the lack of social welfare of the State and the difficult economic situation experienced by residents. Issues include drug abuse, domestic violence, mental illness and suicide attempts; issues that have generally increased in Greece as a result of the social and economic situation.
There are plans to continue the intervention in the neighbourhood on a more permanent basis, with the use of a social service office, which will accept applications in the area and will intervene in the crisis, either by providing direct support or interconnecting with the relevant social services.